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06/28/2018 – Ephemeris – Saturn at opposition, what it means

June 28, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, June 28th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 9:32, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:00. The Moon, at full today, will rise at 9:54 this evening.

Just before midnight last night Saturn was in opposition to the Sun. We’re not talking about an argument here. To the astronomer opposition simply means that a planet, in this case Saturn, is 180 degrees from the Sun, or opposite the Sun in the sky. It is a time when the planet rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. It is also a time when the planet is around its closest to the Earth. It’s not a big deal for Saturn, which is almost 10 times farther from the Sun than we are. However it is a big deal for a nearby planet like Mars, which at the end of July will be closer to us than at any time since 2003, at 35.8 million miles. That’s a big deal since Mars is a small planet, a bit more than half the size of the Earth.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The apparent sizes of Saturn and Mars

The apparent sizes of Saturn and Mars as seen from the Earth at opposition and solar conjunction. All at the same scale. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

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04/02/2018 -Ephemeris – Mars is appearing to pass Saturn in the morning

April 2, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, April 2nd. The Sun will rise at 7:21. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 8:11. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 10:40 this evening.

At 3:02 this afternoon the planet Mars will pass the planet Saturn. The event is called a conjunction, which simply means they are on nearly the same line of sight from the Earth, and nothing more. It will make a pretty sight tomorrow morning before the sky gets too bright with reddish Mars being just below Saturn, by a bit less than 3 moon widths. Conjunctions of these two planets occur at intervals of two years give or take, since it involves the orbital motions of Mars and Saturn while viewing them from a third planet also orbiting the Sun.

Currently both planets are moving eastward against the stars. Saturn will slow and stop its motion on April 18th, while Mars will continue until June 28th. They will track westward for a while. This is because the Earth will be passing these planets this summer, which is called opposition (from the Sun).  Saturn will reach opposition on June 27th, Mars on July 27th.  Mars closest approach will occur four days later at a distance of 35.76 million miles  (57.59 million kilometers).  This is Mars’ closest approach to the Earth since August 27th, 2003.  Expect the return of the Mars hoax emails this summer.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Conjunction animation of Mars passing Saturn

Conjunction animation of Mars passing Saturn at daily intervals at 6 a.m. for March 30 to April 4, 2018. This will occur above the Teapot asterism of the constellation of Sagittarius. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

I covered the Mars hoax 5 years ago here on an August 27th when Mars was nowhere close to us.

03/29/2018 – Ephemeris – The Easter date is set by the first full moon of spring and a developing conjunction

March 29, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, March 29th. The Sun will rise at 7:29. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 37 minutes, setting at 8:06. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 7:21 tomorrow morning.

This Sunday, April 1st will be Easter for western churches. Because it falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon since March 21st. The Full Moon is Saturday the 31st. It happens that Passover begins at sundown the 31st. Orthodox churches will celebrate Easter on April 8th, a week later. It’s going to be a somewhat busy weekend in the sky also. Sunday Mercury will pass from the evening sky to the morning sky in an event called an inferior conjunction of the Sun. It is not visible, but folks in the southern hemisphere will easily spot Mercury late in April. In the morning sky Mars will pass below Saturn between the mornings of the 2nd and 3rd. They are close to the same brightness, but Mars is distinctly redder.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Conjunction animation of Mars passing Saturn

Conjunction animation of Mars passing Saturn at daily intervals at 6 a.m. for March 30 to April 4, 2018. This will occur above the Teapot asterism of the constellation of Sagittarius. Created using Stellarium ans GIMP.

02/09/2018 – Ephemeris – Morning planet high jinx

February 9, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, February 9th. The Sun will rise at 7:51. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 11 minutes, setting at 6:02. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 4:05 tomorrow morning.

This past Wednesday morning the Moon passed Jupiter, Earlier this morning the Moon passed north of Mars, and on Sunday morning Saturn will appear south of The Moon. There is a once in about 2 year event, that is red Mars passing Antares, the red giant star in Scorpius, one of the easiest constellations to spot because it actually resembles a scorpion. The name Antares means “Rival of Mars” because they have the same color: Ant meaning anti and Ares is the Greek god of war and counterpart of the Roman god Mars. Mars will pass Antares on average of

every 22 ½ months, its period around the Sun. Since we are viewing it from a moving Earth, it varies. Mars will pass Antares next on January 19th, 2020.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Morning planets and the Moon

Morning planets and the Moon at 7 a.m. on the mornings of February 9, 10 and 11, 2018.  See Mars changing position compared to Antares. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

12/25/2017 – Ephemeris – The 3 and 2 BC “Star of Bethlehem” conjunctions were repeated 3 and 2 years ago

December 25, 2017 1 comment

Merry Christmas. This is Ephemeris for Christmas Day, Monday, December 25th. The Sun will rise at 8:18. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 5:07. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 12:28 tomorrow morning.

August three years ago and June two years ago we had a near repeat of two very close conjunctions of Jupiter and Venus that occurred in 3 and 2 BC. These two conjunctions spaced by a month more than the human gestation period and seen against the constellation of Leo the lion, symbol of Judah could have brought the Magi, who were Persian astrologer-priests to Jerusalem, capital of Judea. The events could have signified the them the birth of a king of Judea. It was the interpretation of the scriptures by the scribes that actually sent them to Bethlehem. This version of the Star of Bethlehem seems to be the one that’s being accepted more and more by those who believe the Star had a physical reality.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

I dredged these up from the Ephemeris archives

June of 2 BC just after sunset Jupiter and Venus again cross paths.

June 16, 2 BC just after sunset Jupiter and Venus again cross paths, at one point too close to be separated with the naked eye. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter-Venus animation

Jupiter-Venus approach animation June 11 to July 1, 2015 at 10:30 p.m. Created using Stellarium and GIMP. Click on image to enlarge.

A link to the 2015 posting is here.  I didn’t realize until later that this was a near repeat of the 3 ans 2 BC conjunctions.  Here’s a link to my posting of the August conjunction.

 

10/24/2017 – Ephemeris – Saturn and the Moon tonight

October 24, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, October 24th. The Sun will rise at 8:09. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 6:42. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 10:09 this evening.

The crescent Moon will be in the southwest as it gets dark tonight. The planet Saturn will appear below and to the right of our satellite. Saturn has those gorgeous rings, which are visible at as low as 20 power scopes and hinted at lower magnifications. The Moon shows a fat crescent with two whole gray seas, Crises, nearest the limb, and below Fertility. Partially illuminated are Tranquility above and the small sea of Nectar. At the bottom end of that small sea is a horse shoe shaped crater called Fracastorius. It looks like the lava welling up from the Nectar asteroid impact washed down the walls of Fracastorius. The bottom part of the Moon is the lunar highlands of brighter rugged craters.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Moon and Saturn

The Moon and Saturn at 8 p.m. October 24, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The Moon at 8 p.m. October 24, 2017 as it might be seen in binoculars. Created using Virtual Moon Atlas.

 

09/26/2017 – Ephemeris – Saturn appears near the Moon tonight

September 26, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 26th. The Sun will rise at 7:34. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 57 minutes, setting at 7:31. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 11:32 this evening.

Tonight the Moon will to be near the planet Saturn. At 9 p.m. the ringed planet will be seen below the crescent Moon. It’s a good way to spot Saturn if you’ve never be able to figure out which of those “stars” in the sky is Saturn. It’s easy to confirm with a small telescope. Even in binoculars Saturn is not quite a star-like point. Saturn’s rings begin to show distinctly with 20 power magnification. The Moon too is great to view at low power, even binoculars. A new sea has appeared since last night. It is the Sea of Serenity above the center of the Moon. The lunar seas are really large nearly circular lava filled craters that appear to have been the result of asteroid impacts about 3.8 or so billion years ago.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Saturn and the Moon

Saturn and the Moon tonight, 9 p.m. September 26, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The Moon as it might be seen in binoculars, 9 p.m. September 26, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Compare with last night’s Moon.

The Moon tonight

The annotated crescent moon tonight, September 25, 2017. Created using Virtual Moon Atlas.